The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen.
I've seen some nasty things, but seeing the oil wash up onto the coastline as a dark brown, icky goo that congeals into little balls is enough to make my stomach turn.
Last week's Time magazine cover featured a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Charlie Riedel of a pelican covered with oil from its crown to the tip of its enormous beak, globs of oil still dripping off it.
But the oil spill is just one of many crises that have been plaguing the world lately. We've had earthquakes locally and internationally, floods, riots, war and fires. And with the Atlantic hurricane season already in full swing, who knows what devastating storms will be thrown our way.
It's the "end times," some may say. We've addressed this topic before in the weekly In Theory columns, most notably before the opening of "2012" on Nov. 13.
But the Rev. Stefanie Etzbach-Dale, one of our In Theory contributors, put it another way. If the end times are really coming, and if what we are facing today are definitely signs that something is about to happen, should we tackle it head on? In other words, should we "celebrate" or "try to do something to minimize the violence and destruction?"
The reverend's point of view, I believe, is that the world's problems are our fault — not the result of some "end time" prophecy. "We are becoming aware, if nothing else, of the ramifications of our insensitivity to the responsibility we bear one another as inhabitants of the earth," she writes.
This seemed to be the consensus shared by most of the writers this week. Pastor Jon Barta writes that God's judgment — a precursor to an era of God-given peace on earth, writes Graham Bothwell — will be nothing compared to what we are facing now.
And that, my friends, is something we will not be able to stop. What we can stop, however, is the destruction of the world at our own hands.
In creating "Star Trek," Gene Roddenberry envisioned a world where poverty, disease and war didn't exist. Earth would be a utopia, its peoples united. And the only pursuit of the human race would be to improve itself.
Of course, it took a Third World war and 30 years of post-atomic horror for Earth to finally come to terms with its problems. Hopefully, that won't be the case in our world, although some may disagree. Some may say we are sitting on a ticking time bomb, as humanity can take only so much.
So my question to you is, are the end times nigh, according to some prophecy written 2,000 years ago? Or should we look no further than our own bathroom mirrors to reveal who the real culprits are?